The objective here is for you to make a list of your current interests. To get started, ask yourself questions:
What are my favorite sports? Hiking? Windsurfing? Rock climbing?
What do I like to do on weekends? Teach my pet parakeet new words? Hike nature trails? Sleep?
How do I express my creativity? Writing poetry? Playing the guitar? Teaching my niece to make chains from bubble gum wrappers? Jotting down my daydreams?
Now, on another page, list the things you'd like to do if you had a month free. Learn to drive a race car? Take an intensive public speaking course? Learn speedwriting? Hitchhike across the country? For you and me, this is only a wish list. But it just might whet your appetite to do something like it — in real time, that is.
I urge you to spend a few minutes studying both lists and musing on those private dreams no one knows about. Which list is longer, your current interests or your wish list? Ask yourself: Is there much overlap between them? This is where you can make notes to yourself, using these questions as guidelines:
Are you spending too much time on current activities when you could be learning new ones? (Are you starting to realize you have a limited amount of free time? Good. Now you'll stop cluttering golden hours with time-wasting people/projects. Ahem.)
Do you prefer solitary pursuits or group activities? It's important to know your own patterns and tastes so you can build around them. But — you knew this was coming — it's equally important to bend when there's good reason. If you like being alone with your woodworking, join some interest-centered groups to even the score. Time alone is precious, but so is a close friend. Keep a healthy balance in your life.
This is a killer: Are you making choices based on an outdated image of yourself? (Example: "Oh, I'm no good at sports. I was always the last kid chosen for softball at camp.") You've changed. So let this exercise motivate you to discard that stale image and dabble a bit, experiment.
Is your mind filled with shoulds and cannots and yes-buts? Or are you finding more ideas, goals, dreams filtering in? I'm convinced that women as a sex are conditioned to live within narrow constraints, and women without a man by their side are burdened with even stricter limitations. But my nationwide survey found that single-again respondents have become much less critical/judgmental of others since they themselves migrated from the married to the single world. Change is blowing in the wind. Breathe deeply.
Have a question for Susan? You can reach her directly at [email protected]
Photo credit: Virginia State Parks